So much for stopping the bleeding in California, particularly the cuts to be made in education. Despite receiving a sizable chunk of change (about $20 billion of the $787 billion)from the fiscal stimulus bill, the country’s most populous state and the 8th-largest economy in the world continues its downward spiral.
It isn’t entirely surprising. After all, analysts had warned and lawmakers were wary that monies from the federal package would make a significant dent in the $42 billion budget gap the state faced this fiscal year.
The best that state and education officials could hope for was that the funds would prevent them from having to make the really hard and debilitating cuts to public education and other public agencies. Well, that hope was short-lived.
Across California, school districts have or intend to issue nearly 18,000 pink slips to teachers to meet the state’s March 13 deadline for termination notification. In Capistrano Unified, officials have identified 356 positions that could receive pink slips next week. Further north, San Francisco Unified is sending pink slips to about 400 teachers and 140 administrators.
The state’s largest school district, Los Angeles Unified, however, is taking a calculated risk by announcing jobs in the system are safe— for now. The decision is a complete reversal and recognition that the district’s earlier strategy to send pink slips to nearly 2,300 instructors would have been so disruptive it would have cost more than it was worth.
But it leaves officials there with the uneviable task of having to cut $500 to $600 million from their budget before classes begin next fall— and positions will most assuredly be eliminated then.
The forced reductions in staff (almost twice last year’s projection of 10,000 employees) have made the California Teachers Association teeming mad.
“We are pushing back against this attack on public education because our students will feel these cuts for many, many years,” CTA President David Sanchez told the Contra Costa Times. “The potential layoff of so many educators will hurt our communities and California’s future.”
Over the course of next week and leading up to “Pink Friday,” CTA has planned mass demonstrations and protests across the state and has purchased billboards and radio ads.
Naomi Dillon, Senior Editor